The Live Event: Why It Should Be a Critical Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Event professionals know that live events provide an opportunity to interact with brands in a very personal and tangible way that is almost impossible to achieve through digital marketing. But sometimes, chief marketing officers don’t. Most CMOs will at some point question the “live events” line item on the marketing budget and wonder if it’s really worth it.

Marketing expert and Forbes contributor Steve Olenski suggests that it is. In a recent article directed to CMOs, he explained that “live brand experiences are more capable of engaging audiences effectively in a big world which is full of digital, sometimes impersonal marketing.” That engagement is the biggest differentiator for events compared to other forms of marketing. Here are two ways to take advantage of that personal connection.

Never Lose Sight of Your Target Audience

Companies today are competing for more than just market share and brand recognition. According to Olenski, they want and need to cultivate strong and long-lasting relationships with consumers. “That’s where the power and importance of physical engagement lies,” he says.

Research shows that real-life experiences are, in fact, becoming increasingly important to today’s consumers: A study by Eventbrite found that a majority of millennials (72 percent) would like to increase their spending on experiences rather than physical things. In addition, 69 percent believe attending live events and experiences make them more connected to other people, the community and the world.

Because relationship-building with consumers is a top reason for creating a live brand experience, it’s critical for marketers to keep the interests and needs of their target audience in focus. Otherwise, they risk not only failing to make a meaningful connection with attendees, but also possibly alienating potential customers or partners.

“Don’t book a speaker or performer for your event, for example, just because you like them,” says Olenski. “Do so because you think your audience will like them and get something out of the experience.”

Keep the Good Feelings Alive for as Long as Possible

Of course, live brand experiences don’t last forever – but that doesn’t mean attendees’ good feelings should be allowed to fade along with the memory of the event. Marketers need to find ways to make the most of the connections that they made with target audiences.

Howard Givner, founder and CEO of the Event Leadership Institute, which provides training and education for event planning professionals, suggests in an article for Entrepreneur that marketers “use the post-event warm glow to start an ongoing dialogue with these people, and weave them into the fabric of your brand even further.”

Another tip from Givner: Design the live event with on-site and secondary audiences in mind. He says event organizers tend to focus on attendees who are physically at the event; however, “smart planners spend just as much energy making the event share-friendly, and thinking about how that secondary audience will interact with the event.”

Event apps combined with social media offer attendees multiple ways to share their experience and continue the dialogue after the event. You, as the event organizer can take an active role in making that happen.

Understanding why events are unique marketing opportunities and being able to make that point to your CMO are just as important as proving the financial ROI of these investments – and can help ensure that the “live event” budget line item keeps growing.

Want to learn more about how to engage event attendees long after the event ends? Check out how Lucy Eckard, event coordinator for the NFL Players Association , keeps players engaged off the field.